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Elite Men: Gent 204.3km

Flecha fires solo shot for self and Sky

Brecht Decaluwé
February 27, 14:34,
February 28, 11:29

Haussler holds on to second, Farrar sprints to third

Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

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Team Sky should anticipate a fruitful Classics campaign after Juan Antonio Flecha's emphatic victory this afternoon in Gent, Belgium, as the seasoned journeyman became the first Spaniard to win the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad title.

While a milestone for his nation, Flecha's win was also a huge personal breakthrough for the Classics journeyman. Ever-present as a contender, he has recorded a number of high finishes in seasons past, including two previous podium appearances at Omloop (2nd in 2007 and 3rd in 2009), but had never quite been able to reach the top step of the podium until today. It was also his first individual victory since October 2008.

"I'm super happy for him. He’s been knocking on the door for such a long time and he was getting the reputation for getting to the end and not being able to finish it off and he showed everyone today that he was super strong. He was strong and did a fantastic job," said Flecha's team manager Dave Brailsford.

A wily attack on the cobbles with some 20 kilometres remaining set up Flecha's win as he powered away from pre-race favourite and two-time Omloop winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto). Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo) would prove to be the next member of the peloton to see Flecha as he followed the Sky rider in for second place.

"I tried to attack a few times today but it was never the right group," said a satisfied Haussler. “No one seemed to want to work. So in the final I tried it again and I was just able to stay ahead of the group behind me. I am really happy about the second place, to be honest I wasn't sure about today. Actually this race was a bit a test because of my knee but I realized today that my form is still there and I felt comfortable mixing it up at the front of the bunch.”

The USA's Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) finished third, ahead of Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) and Marcel Sieberg (HTC-Columbia).

The Classics get underway in Gent

After leaving Gent the classical early breakaway was set up by 24 year-old Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) after ten kilometres. The Belgian was joined by Frederic Guesdon (Francaise de Jeux), Roy Curvers (Skil-Shimano) and the young talented German Roger Kluge (Milram).

Thirty kilometers further up the road a late counter-attack from Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), Gregory Habeaux (Verndas Willems) and David Boucher (Landbouwcredit) was launched when the breakaway already had a five minute advantage.

Arriving near the first of the hills the four original escapees had twelve minutes on a relaxed peloton. Their efforts were partly spoiled when they were forced to wait at a railway crossing. The peloton used this opportunity to accelerate and take some time back on the first cobbles at Hellingen. The speed wasn't fast enough for Daniel Lloyd (Cervélo), who launched a solo counterattack after tackling the Berendries climb.

After two hours of racing there were still four leaders, three chasers and one sole chaser ahead of the peloton that trailed the front of the race by around seven minutes. By the time the peloton came to the Muur of Geraardsbergen, all of chasers were caught back by the main group, where Quick Step, Sky and Garmin-Transitions were actively working to control the race.

Trains again play a role in the Classics

The race settled once more as it rolled from Helling to Helling. However, with 66 kilometres to go, a moment of consternation occurred just before climbing the Kruisberg. Five riders were chasing the peloton after flat tyres, including in-form Sebastien Rosseler (RadioShack). As the race arrived at another railway crossing, the peloton was allowed by the police to pass through despite red flashing signals, but the five chasers were forced to stop.

The speed increased and on the Kruisberg the gap on the four leaders ran back to three minutes thanks to the work from Cervélo's Andreas Klier, with sixty kilometers left to cover. In the meantime Roger Kluge was dropped by the leaders. After the Kruisberg, the peloton was stretched in a long line on the twisting roads - including the cobbles from the Donderij - towards the Taaienberg, thanks mainly to the pace being set by Omega Pharma-Lotto and Rabobank.

While most were able to follow the furious tempo, for some these accelerations proved to be very painful as they had trouble to get back in the peloton, surprisingly Stijn Devolder (Quick Step)was among them; Nick Nuyens (Rabobank) had bike problems and was out of contention, too. All the big guns were present near the front when approaching the bottom of the Taaienberg including Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto).

On the Taaienberg Boonen launched his classic acceleration in the gutter and he quickly had a forty meter gap over the peloton, where a Liquigas rider held up the rest of the peloton. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) flatted and was thrown backwards while Jurgen Roelandts worked hard for Gilbert to bring the remnants of the peloton back to Boonen.

The Belgian champion didn't seem to continue his all-out effort but on the Eikenberg he was still alone in front, at less than a minute from the leaders. After the Eikenberg, Boonen dropped back into a large group of about thirty riders. On the Wolvenberg, Roelandts accelerated but when Haussler marked his wheel the Belgian didn't want to go on.

The speed in the peloton dropped back and more riders caught back up with the main group. Gilbert went the other way when he slipped away in a left-hand corner and ended up in a big chasing group. Several attacks occurred in the main group featuring former cyclo-cross World Champion Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Marcel Sieberg (HTC-Columbia), however, all were met with without much success.

With only thirty-six kilometers to go the three remaining leaders hit the terrible cobbles of the Molenberg with only half a minute on Sieberg, and then Boonen, who led the peloton over the short climb. On the windy farm roads following the last official climb of the day Roelandts powered away from the peloton and towards the three leaders, who had only twenty seconds of their advantage in hand.

The former Belgian champion joined the front of the race on the famous 2300-metre long cobbled section of the Paddestraat where Guesdon and Curvers had the most left in their tanks and left Veuchelen behind; there were now three leaders in the front with twenty-eight kilometers to go. Nuyens tried to repeat Roelandts' counterattack as he left the peloton behind.

A decisive moment occurred little further on the cobbles of the Lippenhovestraat. Nuyens caught back up with Guesdon, who showed his Paris-Roubaix-honed skills on this next long cobbled section. Favorite Boonen punctured shortly after the Lippenhovestraat and although he quickly received a new wheel he was facing a huge task to battle himself back in the race.

In contrast, Gilbert and Flecha were able to bridge up with the front but then bad luck struck Nuyens, who punctured out of the front as there were no teammates around to help him. With twenty-two kilometers to go there were five leaders: Guesdon, Curvers, Flecha, Gilbert and Roelandts.

The Archer takes aim and fires

Behind, Cervélo were leading the pursuit of the leaders. Their task was quickly being divided as Flecha launched a stinging attack that decimated the front group. Gilbert the quickest to respond but still gapped by the Spaniard.

With a lead established, Flecha put his head down and stretched to the point where his team car was permitted to come through. As the 15 kilometre to go flag flashed by, a smooth looking Flecha was being encouraged from the vehicle by his sports director Scott Sunderland.

Cervélo continued to take the initiative, with Jeremy Hunt and Roger Hammond's efforts giving way to a desperate pursuit by Haussler. The work was enough to absorb the chasers back into the bunch, but not enough to make in imprint on the advantage of Flecha, who re-entered the streets of Gent alone.

Safely over the final, 700-metre cobbled sector, Flecha was alone and swept into the final kilometre with enough time to adopt his archer pose and claim the first Spanish victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Haussler's efforts were rewarded with second place, while Garmin-Transitions' Tyler Farrar emerged from the bunch to secure the third step of the podium.


# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team 5:07:15  
2 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team 0:00:18  
3 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions    
4 Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
5 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team HTC - Columbia    
6 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
7 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly    
8 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC - Columbia    
9 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
10 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha    
11 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux    
12 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
13 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
14 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française des Jeux    
15 William Bonnet (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
16 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
17 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
18 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
19 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team    
20 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step 0:00:24  
21 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom 0:00:26  
22 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
23 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team    
24 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
25 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
26 Phillippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
27 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
28 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha 0:00:29  
29 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:32  
30 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team 0:00:34  
31 Leif Hoste (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:00:39  
32 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team 0:01:33  
33 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team HTC - Columbia 0:02:57  
34 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
35 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Doimo    
36 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:03:51  
37 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly    
38 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
39 Andrea Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
40 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
41 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
42 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
43 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
44 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
45 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank    
46 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
47 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française des Jeux    
48 Jérémie Galland (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
49 Steve Houanard (Fra) Skil - Shimano    
50 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank    
51 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas-Doimo    
52 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin - Transitions    
53 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
54 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack    
55 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank    
56 Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
57 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank    
58 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française des Jeux    
59 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step    
60 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team    
61 Giuseppe Palumbo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:04:59  
62 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank    
63 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux    
64 Martin Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia    
65 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin - Transitions    
66 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Doimo    
67 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
68 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
69 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
70 Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
71 Davide Vigano (Ita) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
72 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step    
73 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team Radioshack    
74 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
75 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Team Radioshack    
76 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
77 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Transitions    
78 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step    
79 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet 0:05:38  
80 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet 0:05:41  
81 Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
82 Sven Renders (Bel) Verandas Willems    
83 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 0:06:49  
84 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
85 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
86 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Quick Step    
87 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram    
88 Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
89 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
90 Tiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:07:28  
91 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Rabobank 0:10:45  
92 Martin Reimer (Ger) Cervelo Test Team    
93 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
94 Gert Dockx (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia    
95 Mitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano    
96 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha    
97 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team    
98 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank    
99 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
100 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
101 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank    
102 Paidi O Brien (Irl) An Post - Sean Kelly    
103 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
104 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
105 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française des Jeux 0:11:14  
106 Kim Borry (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly    
107 Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale    
108 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
109 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems    
110 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
111 Nikita Eskov (Rus) Team Katusha    
112 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
113 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française des Jeux    
114 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux    
115 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin - Transitions    
116 Domenik Klemme (Ger) Team Saxo Bank    
117 Jurgen Vandewalle (Bel) Quick Step    
118 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
119 Cedric Coutouly (Fra) Saur - Sojasun    
120 Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin - Transitions    
121 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Transitions    
122 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil - Shimano 0:13:10  
123 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram    
124 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Verandas Willems    
125 Russell Downing (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
126 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram    
127 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack    
128 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
129 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram    
130 Romain Feillu (Fra) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team    
131 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step    
132 Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack    
133 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Team Milram    
134 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram    
135 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale    
136 Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
137 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team    
138 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
139 Robin Chaigneau (Ned) Skil - Shimano    
140 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
141 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Landbouwkrediet    
142 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC - Columbia    
143 Yohann Gene (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom    
144 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
145 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
146 Dario Andriotto (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
147 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone